A Cross-Sectional Study on Empathy and its Association With Stress in Medical Students
Keywords:Stress, Empathy, Medical Students, Medical Education
Introduction: Empathy is the cornerstone of the doctor-patient relationship and a crucial quality associated with better patient compliance and clinical outcomes. This study aims to assess the level of empathy and its association with the level of stress in 3rd and 4th year medical students
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in Kathmandu Medical College after taking ethical approval from the Institutional Review Committee and informed written consent from all the participants. The respondents completed a structured questionnaire including demographic profile, Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Student Version, and Perceived Stress Scale. Data were entered and analyzed in Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 20.
Results: A total of 255 questionnaires were obtained with a response rate of 85.2%. The mean empathy score was 101.79 (SD = 11.26) and the mean perceived stress score was 18.55(SD = 5.56). There was a statistically significant negative correlation between empathy and stress (p-value <0.01) and similar negative correlations were seen in sub-group analysis. Female students had higher empathy scores compared to their male counterparts (p-value <0.01). Fourth-year students reported lower empathy scores than third-year students (p-value <0.05).
Conclusion: Stress was found to be a significant determinant of empathy among medical students. Medical educators must be aware of this and should try to incorporate means to alleviate stress in medical education. Furthermore, effective stress management techniques to preserve empathy in medical students with a view to improve clinical competency and achieve optimum patient care needs to be studied.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Rachana Sharma, Abhin Sapkota, Ayushma Acharya, Prabesh Lunitel, Luna Paudel, Shaina Sharma, Sudarshan N. Pradhan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.